Come Serve With Us!
An important part of GPC’s mission is to “engage our neighbors.” GPC has developed a diverse range of opportunities to serve our local and global community of neighbors. Everyone is welcome to join in our efforts to grow our faith as we lead and serve those outside our church walls.
Current Volunteer Opportunities for Community Engagement
GPC’s Community Engagement team is an active outreach group that impacts many people on local, regional, and global levels. Exciting projects are happening all the time – join us as we reach out in God’s love! For a list of areas that currently need help, click here.
Feeding the 5000 Food Drive
“The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” —Matthew 14:21
Please bring contributions to the marked boxes in the Narthex or at the North Entrance.
Sunday, March 5, through Easter Sunday, April 16
Throughout Lent, GPC will collect food for these local organizations that help the hungry in our community:
• The Lord’s Table (faithinactiondc.com/stmartin) provides a hot, multi-course, mid-afternoon meal six days a week for the hungry at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Gaithersburg.
• Gaithersburg HELP (gaithersburghelp.org) provides local families in need with short-term emergency assistance of various kinds, including supplemental groceries.
• Manna Food Center (mannafood.org), through its Smart Sacks program, provides needy children with backpacks full of kid-friendly food every Friday so that they have food on the weekends when there are no school meals to sustain them.
Last year we raised our goal to 7,000 items and ended up with 7,117 items!
Let’s do it again!
The Weis Crew goes to the store at 9:00 a.m. every Monday and Thursday and takes shopping carts to the bakery and meat departments to collect surplus items. The items are then taken back to GPC, where we sort through the bakery boxes for nut-free items and those not made in a facility that processes nuts. Nut-free items are placed in the GPC freezer to be used later for Communion, Sunday morning coffee hour, and SOME (So Others Might Eat). The remaining items are taken to St. Martin’s Food Pantry, just north of the church on South Frederick Avenue, which is very convenient for us to drop off the items. The pantry gives groceries to the hungry every Monday morning. Food delivered to the Food Pantry on Thursdays is stored in their pantry and freezers until the following Monday morning.
This is an easy way to heed the call to minister to hungry people in our community! It is also a minimal commitment for busy people who may not be able to commit to participating more than once a month. It usually takes only about one hour total! Two members of the Weis Crew are responsible for one day of the month. As a team, we cover every Monday and Thursday. Often it is easy enough that one member can handle it. We also have a list of substitutes who can fill in if a team member is not available. If you are interested in joining the Weis Crew, please email Cammie Moncak or call 301-926-8668.
Lending support to this local food pantry in many ways
Gaithersburg HELP is a year-round food pantry that has served the Gaithersburg community since 1968.
This is an ALL-volunteer organization composed of 200 volunteers from more than 25 local congregations, including GPC. It provides short-term, emergency assistance to more than 3,500 families in need.
Gaithersburg HELP provides 3-day emergency food supplies based on family size, supplies for infants, help with prescriptions, transportation to medical appointments or to obtain services, and other support and referrals. GPC provides financial support to Gaithersburg HELP, as well as donations of food and supplies. This organization is one of the recipients of the items collected during the Lenten “Feeding of the 5000” Food Drive that GPC members participate in each year.
Gaithersburg HELP always needs volunteers to assist with telephone screening, provide transportation for clients, perform administrative tasks, or serve in the food pantry. A list of current volunteer opportunities, along with a link to the volunteer application, can be found here.
The Lord’s Table
Preparing and serving hot meals at St. Martin’s Church
The Gaithersburg community soup kitchen—The Lord’s Table—is a volunteer organization that collects food from area food banks, wholesalers, supermarkets, churches, and individuals and provides meals for approximately 50–75 people each day at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church on South Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.
Hot meals are served Monday through Saturday at 3:30 p.m., from September through mid-June. Outreach volunteers are at the soup kitchen every time meals are served to assist people with county programs that would be appropriate for their needs, such as referrals for clothing, food, dental care, eye glasses, shelter, and healthcare.
A portion of the food collected during GPC’s Lenten “Feeding of the 5000” Food Drive is donated to The Lord’s Table. GPC provides financial support as well as volunteers who cook and serve the meals to the clients. Two groups from GPC volunteer on the third Tuesday of each month: Group 1 works from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. preparing the meal from scratch—a beef macaroni casserole, salad, soup, drinks, and dessert. Group 2 works from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. serving the food and cleaning up. Volunteers are required to have a TB test on file. If you want to volunteer or have questions, please contact Francie Whitlock. More information can also be found on St. Martin’s website.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Mission Trips
Participating twice a year on rebuilding projects
GPC-led teams have participated in 22 mission trips to work for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on rebuilding projects. Groups go on mission trips twice a year, normally in the spring and the fall. We sent groups on 9 trips to the Gulf Coast to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief, and made 4 trips to Nashville, Tennessee, for flood rebuilding; 2 trips to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to build houses for tornado victims; 5 trips to the New York/New Jersey area to provide assistance after Hurricane Sandy, and 2 trips to Charleston, South Carolina, for flood rebuilding.
Fletcher Tukes has participated in ALL 22 mission trips. In June 2016, he was honored for his leadership and participation in the first 21 mission trips listed above. Fletcher (left), Pastor Mary Beth Lawrence (center), and Bob Wasik (right) are pictured above.
Connecting with local inmates
GPC’s Prison Ministry is a group of volunteers affiliated with the St. James’ Prison Ministry—a consortium of local churches serving Montgomery County’s inmate population and their families at the three correctional facilities: the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds, the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville, and the Pre-Release and Re-Entry Services Center, also in Rockville. Volunteers are involved in a wide variety of activities, including meeting and praying with inmates, collecting and distributing religious literature and greeting cards, mentoring and participating in job partnership programs, and providing other services as needed.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Prison Ministry, please contact Mary Wasik.
Helping provide low-income homeowners with safer homes
Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) offers low-income homeowners safe and healthy home repairs at no cost to the recipient. Over the course of a year, RTMC repairs the homes of more than 100 families, reducing their financial burdens and improving the quality of life for more than 500 people across our county. RTMC’s critical services preserve safe and affordable housing, prevent homelessness, protect a family’s most valuable asset, and stabilize our vulnerable communities.
GPC works with RTMC to provide home repair services. This program depends entirely on volunteers to repair and/or renovate the homes. Projects take place for one day in April. Volunteers do not need to be GPC members; anyone older than 14 years of age with any skill level (but experts are also needed!) can participate. GPC offers scholarships to volunteers who cannot afford to contribute toward materials for the projects.
For further information, contact Yaw Obeng.
SOME (So Others Might Eat)
Serving up French toast and more on the first Tuesday of the month
SOME (So Others Might Eat) is an interfaith organization that takes a holistic approach to helping the poor and homeless in Washington, D.C. During the past 40+ years, SOME has grown from a local soup kitchen to a comprehensive program that provides affordable housing; employment training and placement services; medical, dental, and mental health care; meals and clothing; addiction treatment and counseling; and more. It is a vibrant, faith-based program that offers hope and a fresh start to thousands of poor and homeless individuals and families each year.
GPC provides financial support to SOME, and volunteers from GPC prepare a hot breakfast for 400–500 individuals at the SOME dining room on the first Tuesday of each month. SOME serves a nutritious breakfast and lunch at its main facility on “O” Street in northwest D.C. every day of the year, and GPC volunteers have been providing the hot breakfast once a month for more than 30 years!
Volunteers can participate in two ways: (1) join the GPC SOME Crew and help cook breakfast when you can, and (2) donate the ingredients for breakfast. The SOME Crew is simply a list of people who have said that they would like to go to SOME with a group from GPC and help prepare breakfast, whenever they are available. Each month an e-mail is sent out to see who is available, and the group is assembled based on the responses.
Food items are donated by volunteers each month. Donations needed include eggs, bread, syrup, apple sauce, and orange juice. Additional items (ham and milk) and whatever items are not received as donations are purchased with support from the GPC Community Engagement Ministry budget. Food donations should be delivered to the GPC kitchen on the Sunday before the first Tuesday of the month. For more information on how to join the GPC SOME Crew or donate food for the breakfast, contact Steve Olin.
The Dwelling Place
The Dwelling Place, Inc, is a local non-profit that helps families transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. There are many reasons that families in wealthy Montgomery County become homeless. Thankfully, The Dwelling Place is here to provide not only housing but also supportive services that help families make needed changes in their lives. GPC provides space for monthly Life Skills Classes, which are an important part of addressing those necessary life changes. We also donate paper products that help families stretch their monthly budgets a little bit further. For more information about The Dwelling Place, please visit their website tdp-inc.org.
Summit Hall Elementary School
Supporting teachers and students in many ways
GPC has developed a bond with our neighboring public school, Summit Hall Elementary School (SHES). Volunteers have helped for years—in the classrooms and assisting teachers with paperwork—and several GPC members are on staff there. Many students are recent immigrants and new to the area, so SHES doesn’t receive the support through PTA membership and homeroom moms that many other schools do. The parents are usually busy working multiple jobs and do not have the time or language skills to participate in school activities at this level.
For GPC’s 50th anniversary, it was decided that half of the funds collected would be given to SHES for after-school programming. Keith Jones, SHES principal, was presented with a check for $10,000. In the spring of 2015, after-school programs began with Big Learning, a science program; SandBell Fitness; and a martial arts class. The funds should be sufficient to allow the scheduling of another series of classes.
As many as 20 volunteers from GPC have been active at the school—working in classrooms and the book room, helping with the outdoor Move It Monday running activity, reading in the classrooms for the Read Across America Day, helping with the PTA book fair and game night, collecting BOX TOP$ FOR EDUCATION, chaperoning on field trips, donating supplies, and preparing materials. GPC’s middle school youth group spent a day cleaning up the grounds and labeling new books during their summer ServeFest week. This winter, GPC members donated more than 65 coats to help families whose children needed warmer outerwear. We have also been able to support the Linkages to Learning program associated with the school, which reaches out to low-income families, offering medical care and counseling. These families always need toiletries, cleaning supplies, and gift cards to grocery stores.
The staff is fantastic and we are welcome to work in almost every aspect of the school’s programs. Our volunteers are constantly thanked by staff members whom we assist, and even by those with whom we don’t work directly! There are many opportunities to use your skills at SHES, including the following:
- Classroom Help – assist teachers and students in the classroom
Morning or afternoon, once a week
- Move It Mondays – promote outdoor running during recess
Punch the students’ cards and keep them from cutting corners
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Mondays, weather permitting
(Volunteers should arrive by 10:40 and will finish around 2:15.)
- Update School Sign next to the Street – post informational messages using individual letters
- Bi-weekly and/or for special days and school events
Anytime during the school day (text is available from the front office)
- Teachers’ Book Storage Room – re-file books, label new books
Flexible – anytime during the school day
- Lunch Room Helpers – help students with lunches
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. any day of the week
- BOX TOP$ FOR EDUCATION – collect box tops from grocery items by participating manufacturers and put them in the little boxes located in Lindsay Hall and GPC’s main office
Wilkins Avenue Women’s Shelter
Providing meals for the homeless shelter
GPC is an enthusiastic supporter of the Wilkins Avenue Women’s Assessment Center (WAWAC)—a women’s shelter located in Rockville and run by Interfaith Works. The 65-bed emergency shelter serves approximately 300 women per year. We assist the shelter via several programs:
Dinner: Impossible! – This program provides dinner at the shelter on short notice when a regular meal provider has had to cancel. Contrary to the program’s title, GPC volunteers are always able to come through with a delicious dinner! Meals are prepared at home and served at the shelter by the volunteers. This program has no regularly scheduled dates, because we fill in as needed. Interested individuals can sign up on a listserv to be notified when dinners are needed.
Christmas Week Meals – GPC provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 35 women at the shelter during Christmas week. We also go to the shelter to serve the dinners to the residents. More than 100 volunteers come together each year for this project—we hope that you will be one of them! Interested individuals may sign up through the Signup Genius site to serve or to provide supplies or food.
Craft Ministry – GPC holds a sewing and crafting workshop regularly at the shelter.
MoCo Interfaith 5K
GPC members were proud to support the first annual MoCo Interfaith 5K on Labor Day 2016 at the Germantown SoccerPlex. Shaare Torah Jewish Community, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and the Islamic Society of the Washington Area partnered to create this event. Participants enjoyed a beautiful day supporting two great causes—interfaith harmony and the Gaithersburg HELP food pantry!
Women’s Shelter Holiday Meals
GPC was happy to once again provide all three meals during Christmas week for the residents of the local women’s shelter.
Volunteers purchased food and other supplies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Members prepared lunches as a group in Lindsay Hall after Christmas Day services and also took turns preparing and serving dinner.
GPC’s Giving Tree
Giving Tree items helped the needy through these organizations:
Gaithersburg HELP, Interfaith Works, Prison Ministry, SOME, The Lord’s Table, Summit Hall Elementary School, and the Medical Benevolence Foundation of PC-USA.
GPC members attended Interfaith Works’ annual Congregational Meeting on November 17, 2016 to celebrate the work being done by all volunteers and to learn more about the challenges facing our neediest neighbors in Montgomery County. If you help out with the women’s shelter meals or the Giving Tree, THANK YOU for supporting this amazing community organization! Pictured, from left: Vivian Chefor, Rev. Mary Beth Lawrence, IW CEO Shane Rock, Denise Schleckser, Mary Wasik, Barbara Clark, Cindy Frick.
at the Women’s Shelter
GPC and MoverMoms (www.movermoms.com) teamed up to provide dinners and breakfasts at Interfaith Works’ Wilkins Avenue Women’s Assessment Center from July 10 through July 16, 2016. The week ended with a delicious hot breakfast served by volunteers. THANK YOU to the many volunteers who shopped, cooked, and served for all of the week’s meals!
Feeding the 5000 Food Drive
GPC TOPS RECORD FOR FEEDING THE 5000!
We collected a total of 7,117 food items in 2016—1,206 more than the 6,911 items collected in 2015, which was 10% higher than the 6,269 items that had been collected in 2014! Many thanks to all who brought a can, a case, or a carload of food during Lent—every donation contributed to our very successful food drive! Through The Lord’s Table, Gaithersburg HELP, and Manna Food Center, our church community was able to provide many needy individuals with tangible evidence of God’s love.
We look forward to increasing the total number of food items collected even more in 2017!